Money mule jailed 4 1/2 years for laundering $855,000

In April, US$2.7 million (S$3.3 million) was drawn out of the account of Ms Joaquina Rodrigues at the Crown Bank in the United States by fraudsters using forged e-mails and wire transfer authorisation forms.

These monies were transferred to bank accounts in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.

The Singapore connection to this scheme was jailed for 4 1/2 years on Thursday for his role in laundering the $855,000 that was sent here.

A district court heard that Stephen Lim Ee Tak, 46, befriended Ms Julie Hasler, an Australian, through a dating website last March.

Lim, who was unemployed then, said Hasler had asked him to receive money on her behalf. Then on her instructions, he remitted money to people she said were her friends or business suppliers in Malaysia.

Ms Rodrigues reported her missing funds to the Federal Bureau of Investigations and it was discovered that fraudsters had forged her signature to authorise the transfers of money.

On May 8 last year, police officers raided Lim's Punggol home and arrested him.

He admitted that he suspected that the money coming into his bank account was criminal proceeds and had earned $5,556 for helping the fraudsters.